Updating the service background of the fugitive war vets from Vietnam to Iraq, Carnahan (Narc, Smokin' Aces) goes full origin story on us. Because as much as the team loves it when a plan comes together, audiences love it when a team comes together, right? So we have an introduction demonstrating Hannibal's cleverness, B.A. Baracus's ass-whooping, Face's cocky womanizing and Murdock's howling mad insanity.
The extreme coincidence of these former Army Rangers coming together is explained away with a philosophical Hannibal-ism regarding fate. It's almost as if Carnahan is flat-out telling viewers not to take anything too seriously and enjoy the ride for what it is.
With that mentality in place, The A-Team is a pretty darn fun and knowingly ludicrous ride. Though fairly reverent to the original series, the cartoonish violence now comes with a body count and Face's seductions are a little steamier, but none of it's overtly graphic.
A couple major homage points are checked off early on: Baracus pities a fool with his knuckles, while recovering the classic black van to a brief vamp of the iconic theme music. Murdock is sprung from a military psychiatric ward just in time to give the crew an insane helicopter ride that births Baracus's vehement fear of flying. The whys and whos of the team's framing are serviceable, but secondary to the fun these characters are having on screen.
Neeson is excellent in almost every role he plays, so no surprise there. Bradley Cooper, however, is perfectly cast, committing his most likable and lively performance to date. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has the most thankless task, filling Mr. T's Mohawk, and considering his day-job as a UFC fighter, he may actually be too credible a performer to capture T's stone-faced ridiculousness.
The team's ace in the hole is definitely Sharlto Copely, in his first post-District 9 role. Utilizing a plethora of accents, Copely is often hysterical and always the most enjoyable personality on screen. Patrick Wilson is also surprisingly effective as a cocky, geeky FBI douche.
The A-Team often descends into implausible hyper-cut action madness, but this is a movie where they attempt to fly a tank, so sit back and enjoy the charming ensemble cast running wild. (Fox)